Increased media attention on foot and mouth disease should be used as an opportunity to make lasting changes to border security, National Farmers Federation vice president David Jochinke told the national fodder industry conference in Toowoomba on Wednesday.
Mr Jochinke said If FMD reached Australian shores, it would be "catastrophic" for the livestock industry and related industries, including the hay and silage producers at this week's AFIA conference.
That is why NFF is using the ongoing national conversation to address the country's "systemically underfunded" biosecurity, he said.
"You never waste a good crisis. And for us, we're trying to expose the funding system that hasn't been put in place. The fact that multiple governments - not just the current one, or the past one, or the one before that - have not put in place a sustainable model," Mr Jochinke said.
Mr Jochinke said trade had increased but biosecurity funding had not increased by the same rate.
"How are we meant to check all of the mail? How are we meant to check all the imports? How are we meant to check all the tourists coming though when we don't have that funding system in place?" he said.
The NFF wants a long term solution rather than a "political term-based funding system" and says it has been working with the government to make that happen.
And while there have been growing calls to close the border, NFF is resisting those calls for the moment.
"We're trying to get as many vets over to Indonesia as possible to vaccinate their animal population. For us, it's making sure that if we're closing our border, that is the last lever that we have," Mr Jochinke said.
Mr Jochinke said while the focus seemed to be on tourists, the public had to remember the biggest risk was meat.
"Our highest risk is still illegal meat imports that are fed as swill. How do we tell that story to the peri-urbans? Because they're the ones who are actually probably going to do it more than what we are agriculture, because we are hypersensitive to this at the moment."
When an audience member pointed out the weak punishments dished out on border security TV shows, Mr Jochinke agreed the consequences for breaching rules needed to be better publicised.
"When they say throwing the book at them, it's more of a wet paper towel that you see on those TV shows," he said.
"The gravity of the situation isn't necessarily portrayed at all. You're likely to see people get a slap on the wrist or things being confiscated.
"Jail time. Massive fines that actually affect your equity position - these are things that we want to see. We want to have both books thrown at them, not just the wet towel.
"We are sharply focused on pushing the agenda for more consequences for bad behaviour."
NFF is also campaigning for the customs document filled out on international flights to be taken more seriously.
"It should hold a lot of gravitas," Mr Jochinke said.
"We want those forms to be changed immediately, but ... it was explained to us the amount of rigmarole ... both at a federal level and then also at an international level for that to occur. It's just nightmarish.
"That will happen ... but it's the back end of it that we're really interested in because ... that's going to be the thing that makes the lasting change."
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